Rainham and Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas slams Romford MP Andrew Rosindell over Pinochet comments
PUBLISHED: 16:30 14 June 2012 | UPDATED: 16:35 14 June 2012
Rainham and Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas has hit out at “profoundly disturbing” comments from Romford MP Andrew Rosindell about former Chilean dictator General Pinochet.
Labour MP Mr Cruddas’ remarks came after Tory Mr Rosindell said he held “huge admiration” for the South American leader, whose regime killed and tortured tens of thousands of people throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
“Let’s remember a few basic facts,” said Mr Cruddas. “Augusto Pinochet assumed power in a coup d’état and overthrew a democratically elected government. According to various reports and investigations thousands of people were killed in this process, and tens of thousands were interned and tortured by his regime.
“I simply don’t think he is an acceptable role model for an MP here in Havering. I would like Andrew to think again about his support for this tyrant.”
Mr Rosindell made the comments while speaking to the Recorder about the revelation that Osman Dervish, the recently appointed head of Havering Council’s crime and disorder committee and head of the local Conservative party, had belonged to an “Augusto Pinochet Fan Club” on Facebook.
“Yes, there were atrocities, but so there were in all the other countries in South America. The previous regime in Chile was far worse,” said Mr Rosindell.
“Pinochet ousted a communist regime in Chile that was butchering its people. Compared with the rest of Latin America during the ‘70s and ‘80s, Chile turned into a free society where people were able to prosper.
“He then helped us win the Falklands War, liberating the British people of the Falklands and preventing the many deaths of British soldiers.
“We should be grateful for what he did for our country. If Osman happened to join a group, then so what? I would happily be a member of that group. I have huge admiration for General Pinochet.”
By contrast, Cllr Dervish distanced himself from the group, initially saying he was at school when he became involved.
“It was youthful folly,” he said at first. “I left years ago. I was at school – a young lad.”
But Cllr Dervish did not actually join Facebook until November 2006 – by which time the 18-year-old had finished sixth form and was working as a parliamentary intern with Mr Rosindell.
When the Recorder put this to him, Cllr Dervish, now 24, said he could not remember when he had joined the group or when he had left, but maintained it was “years ago”.
“I cannot remember the exact details,” he added. “I’m not a member of it any more. It’s a dead issue and I don’t think it really needs to be discussed.”
Cllr Keith Darvill, leader of the local Labour group, said Cllr Dervish’s past affiliations were worrying.
“It shows a train of thought that isn’t appropriate for someone promoting police policies in Havering that, hopefully, are more even-handed,” he added.
Romford bank cashier Lorraine Moss, who posts on the “Angry of Havering” website, said the fact Cllr Dervish had belonged to the group made her uncomfortable.
“I don’t think someone who, when they were 18 or 19, supported a mass murderer and torturer should be in charge of the crime and disorder committee,” she said.
Conservative councillor Ted Eden, recently ousted as chair of the committee, said: “When I was 18, I was doing active service. It proves he’s naïve.
“When you are talking about crime and disorder, you can’t be naïve.”